As the achievement gap between African American and Latino students and their White counterparts continues to grow, lawmakers are searching for ways to decrease the disparity. As a result, college access programs that focus on improving basic skills and strengthening academic achievement have become essential to fostering student success. With Upward Bound being one of the longest running federally funded college access programs, its success and effectiveness have been the focus of several studies. Surprisingly, very little qualitative phenomenological research exists that is solely devoted to student perceptions. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to understand the impact of Upward Bound, and its relation to postsecondary success, but from the perspective of former program participants. Eight former Upward Bound participants completed the data collection process, which included completing a demographic survey and participating in a 60-minute interview that consisted of sixteen open-ended questions. The study was conducted on the campus of a public community college in a large urban city in Southern California. Key findings of this study indicated that tutoring, summer college classes, workshops, field trips to college campuses, motivation and attention beyond high school from program staff were significant in helping students achieve postsecondary success. The conclusion of the study indicated that the participants did believe that Upward Bound had a positive influence on their decision to go to college and ultimately helped them achieve postsecondary success.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Upward Bound Program (U.S.) -- Case studies; Minority students; College preparation programs -- Case studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Garcia-Ramos, Reyna;